If you suspect someone under the age of 18 is being abused or neglected, or is at risk for abuse or neglect, you should make a report to your local Child Protective Services (CPS) office.

  • Call the state-wide Hotline at 1-866-363-4276


Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

Reporting Abuse

Get Help Now!

Helplines are staffed with trained operators to deal with your questions about suspected child abuse.





Child Advocacy Centers (CAC's) provide coordinated legal, medical, and social services to child victims of abuse. If you are unsure about making an official report or you are/know a (youth) victim in need of support, contact a child advocacy center in your area.

To find a Washington CAC near you visit our Find a Center page

To find a CAC in another state, visit the National Children’s Alliance at:

Not in Washington State: 

The Child Welfare Information Gateway: lists ALL States toll-free numbers and websites for specific agencies designated to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. 
Click the green link below the Logo to be directed to

Information to Include

►Please take a moment before calling to put together as much of the following information as possible: 

  1. Name, age and address of the child.
  2. Name, address, and other identifying information about the parent or other caregiver.
  3. The type of abuse you witnessed including information on the extent of the abuse and who caused the abuse.
  4. Information about any previous incidents or concerns.
  5. Any other information that might be helpful.

You do not need to know all of this information to make a report, but the more specific you can be, the easier it will be for CPS to determine if an investigation is needed.

Even if CPS does not investigate, the information will be kept on file and may aid in future investigations.

Even if you are not a mandated reporter under state law, you have an obligation to protect children in your community. You cannot be held liable for making a report in good faith. You do not have to know for sure that a child is being abused or neglected to make a report. A trained investigator will make that determination.

Washington State Definition on Child Abuse/ Types of Abuse

How Washington State Law Defines Child Abuse

Child Abuse:  In Washington State, RCW 26.44.020 (1) defines abuse and neglect as injury, assault, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and/or safety is harmed. ​​​​​​​*

  • EMOTIONAL ABUSE​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A child who has been injured mentally is one who sustains damage to intellectual, psychological, emotional or psychological functioning which is clearly attributable to the non-accidental acts or omissions of the parent or guardian. Examples of a parental or caretaker abusive behaviors include a pattern of rejecting, isolating, ignoring, corrupting or terrorizing a child.
  • SEXUAL ABUSE:​​​​​​​ There is a wide range of offenses defined in the Washington state criminal code involving children that constitute sexual abuse such as: any form of inappropriate sexual behavior with a child; this could include: fondling, touching, indecent liberties, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, sexual exploitation of a minor, sex trafficking of children for sexual purposes, child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, rape of a child and intended rape.

Sexual exploitation is one element of the definition of sexual abuse. This includes allowing the child to engage in sexual acts, prostitution, sex trafficking or the production of child pornography.

  • NEGLECT: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Negligent treatment or maltreatment (a dangerous act) is that which constitutes a clear and present danger to the child’s health, welfare, and safety such as:
  • Failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, emotional nurturing or health care.
  • Failure to provide adequate supervision in relation to a child’s level of development.
  • An act of abandonment.
  • An act of exploitation.
  • An act of reckless endangerment.
  • Other dangerous acts such as hitting, kicking, throwing, choking a child or
    shaking an infant.
Neglect is further defined in RCW 26-44-020 (17).

Common Indicators of Abuse

The Following are Common Indicators of Abuse

The presence of an indicator does not prove child abuse is occurring; however, if you repeatedly or in combination notice these signs please take a closer look, consider the possibility of child abuse and report it. 

*The Child:

  • has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • is frightened of the parent/guardian and protests or cries when it’s time to go home
  • shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • has not received help for physical, medical or learning problems brought to the parents' attention
  • shrinks at the approach of adults
  • reports an injury by a parent or adult caregiver
  • lacks appropriate adult supervision
  • is reluctant to be around a particular person
  • Discloses maltreatment

*The Parent:

  • offers conflicting, unconvincing, or non-explanations for child’s injury
  • denies the existence of - or blames the child for- the child's problems in school or home
  • describes or views the child as bad, worthless, burdensome or with a negative view
  • uses harsh physical discipline with the child
  • demands a level of physical or academic performance that child cannot achieve
  • shows little concern for the child
  • asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • looks to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

*The Parent and The Child

  • Rarely touch or look at one another
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State consistently they do not like each other

► This list is not all inclusive/not a fully comprehensive list of the signs of abuse and neglect.

*Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). "What is child abuse and neglect? Recognizing the signs and symptoms." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

**Information taken from the Washington State Attorney General Website at:  The Child Welfare Information Gateway at:  and the Washington State Department of Children Youth and Families website at:

Please visit each website for more helpful information and resources on abuse.

Concerns about Reporting Suspected Abuse

Concerns about reporting suspected abuse:  Any person who in good faith makes a report or gives testimony in regard to possible child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability. Any administrator of a hospital or similar institution or licensed physician taking a child into custody, such as in the instance when a hospital hold is warranted, is also immune from liability (RCW 26.44.060). See Duty to Report.

Immunity from civil or criminal liability—Confidential communications not violated—Actions against state not affected—False report, penalty

The law seeks to prevent malicious reporting which can occur as a result of family or neighborhood disputes. 

(4) A person who, intentionally and in bad faith, knowingly makes a false report of alleged abuse or neglect shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable in accordance with RCW 9A.20.021.
(5) A person who, in good faith and without gross negligence, cooperates in an investigation arising as a result of a report made pursuant to this chapter, shall not be subject to civil liability arising out of his or her cooperation.


Washington State Helplines & Resources

Washington State: Department of Children, Youth & Families - DCYF

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF - Formally DSHS)

Please visit the DCYF website for more information:

Region 1


Region 2


Region 3


Region 4


Region 5


Region 6



Youth Needing to Talk

Stonewall Youth, Providing resources for LGBTQ ages 12-24:

​​​​​​​Text: 360-888-4273 or email:


Youth Homeless, Runaway & Shelter Services


• The Washington State Office of Homeless Youth has a Provider List that will give you contact information on available homelessness resources. You can view & download this list by clicking the PDF version below or click the green link to be directed to the website

Download PDF

Washington State: 211 - Information and Resources Network

 211 is Washington's Information Network 

  • Washington 211 maintains a statewide database of community resources.
  • Looking for help? SEARCH the online database.
  • Washington 211 is a network of 7 regional call centers. ​​​​​​​
Phone: 211 or Text: your zip code to 211  


National Helplines & Resources

National Child Abuse Helplines

  • Abused or Neglected Children: Child Help - National Abuse Hotline.
    • Phone: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

  • Child Sexual AbuseStop It Now!
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Phone: 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368)

  • Rape & Sexual Abuse: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
    • Phone: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

Missing, Abducted & Runaway Children

  • Missing or Abducted Children: National Center for Missing or Exploited Children. 
    • Phone: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)

  • Runaway & Homeless Youth: National Runaway Safeline.
    • Phone: 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929) or text 66008

National Human Trafficking Information

Reporting Suspected Child Exploitation on the Internet

Reporting suspected child exploitation on the internet

  • The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection. ASACP battles child exploitation through its C.E. Reporting Tipline. Please view their FAQs page to find out more information on: What sites you should report, what content is and isnt child exploitation, how you can help their mission, resources and information on internet child exploitation. 

Suicide Prevention


The Trevor Project: 

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

Help is available 24/7 ​​​​​​​

Phone: 1 866-488-7386

Instant Messaging with a counselor:

Text: text the word - START to # 678678


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